|Slippery and Wet in Sligo
||[Oct. 27th, 2007|04:00 pm]
After over two weeks, the nice-weather streak that has dominated my vacation has ended here in Sligo. I'm hiding out in an internet cafe after having done every indoor tourist thing that can be done here (short of parking myself in a pub and just drinking all day.) I've been to the Sligo public library, the County Sligo museum, the Model Arts Museum (Andy Warhol exhibition, of all things,) and the ruins of Sligo Abbey (not indoors, but it was only misting then.) The good thing is that there is a tradition music festival afoot here, so at 6pm I can start hopping from live music venue to live music venue.
It's been a good vacation with surprisingly little internet access. Maybe that was for the best. The weather in Italy was beautiful beyond belief, sunny day upon sunny day with nights that never got below 50 degrees. Venice was far and away my favorite city there, but Sienna was also a very nice surprise.
The weather here in Ireland has been fairly chilly, as expected, but I had perfect sunny days while I was in Portstewart, Northern Ireland. Since Portstewart and Giant's Causeway were the places where I most wanted to take pictures and do long walks, the sun was greatly appreciated. Portstewart really rocked, despite my first impression of it as a dead shore town. After teaming up with the only other person in my hostel to take the trip out to the Causeway sights, we ended up walking from the Causeway to Bushmills Distillery. Unlike the other three distilleries I've visited in my travels, Bushmills actually lets you bypass the tour and educational video and do a private tasting, if you choose. We did (having seen the video at both Midleton and Jamesons already.) A really friendly staff member named Brian took the two of us to the bar and went through five different types of whiskey with us-- three Bushmills, one scotch and a bourbon-- but with much more information than you get at the tasting at the end of the tour. We also got to try a special reserve Bushmills- sold only on premises. Definitely not something you get to do on the regular distillery tours. If you are ever in the Bushmills vicinity, don't pass up the private tasting.
We planned to call it an early evening, but after we watched a movie in the hostel common room and drank several cups of tea, we got a second wind. There are a few bars in Portstewart, but the Anchor was the only one that seemed to have real people in it. Wednesday night was pub quiz night, and my cohort, Annie, managed to talk to quiz master into letting us form a team and join in for the 3rd round of 8. We ended up taking third place (would have done better if we knew more European sports trivia.) Got all sorts of beer company sponsored t-shirts, tanktops and knick-knacks, as well as a bottle of Yellow-Tail Cabernet. Alas, we were both traveling in other directions in the morning, so we ended up donating the whole bottle to the hostel kitchen! Anyway, we spent the whole night talking to the pubs regulars, and were very reluctant to leave when the publican finally threw us all out.
After that, Derry could be nothing but a disappointment. There was nothing wrong with Derry, but I wasn't there long enough to find my niche. I did get to see a battle-of-the-bands style singer-songwriter competition at the Mason Bar, though. All the participants were college kids or younger, and all the attendees the same. I felt ancient. In Derry's defense, my dinner of duck at Fitzroys was both delicious and fairly reasonable, and Paddy's Palace Hostel was bright, friendly and very well maintained. I didn't have much time to talk to the owners, but they were young, welcoming, and definitely put a lot of time and effort into caring for the hostel.
My hostel in Sligo is also very well cared for with a friendly owner. And Sligo is very much a city I could get used to staying in. Good internet cafes, lots of lovely places to have tea and light meals, a small outdoor market selling crepes and a lively music scene. Now, if the rain would just stop tomorrow long enough to get to Drumcliffe and see Yeat's grave and Ben Bulben, all would be perfect! Keep your fingers crossed!